By Design – Issue 50 // Fall 2020

22 HAZARDS A lister MacKenzie succinctly sums up the purpose and ideal placement of hazards on a golf course as follows: “A hazard placed in the exact position where a player would naturally go is frequently the most interesting situation, as a special effort is then needed to get over it or to avoid it.” The varied landscapes over which golf is played allow for endless combinations of features – natural, man-made or a combination. If man-made features are thoughtful and artistic, and the combinations nuanced, this can present interesting, playful riddles for golfers to solve. I’ve been fortunate in over 20 years as a golf course architect to travel, study and to be inspired by some of the most interesting examples of classic and modern golf architecture. One of my favorite features on a golf course is the single bunker. Elaborate artistic expressions of bunkers have recently taken center stage, a far cry from their primitive forms as windblown scars and scraps formed by burrowing animals. While there is excitement in and flair to an elaborate nest of bunkers guarding the ideal line, I’ve learned to appreciate the simpler, more elegant solution as well: the single bunker. In contrast to splashing sand everywhere, it is more difficult to distil from a layout one perfectly placed and “essential” bunker location. You’re looking for a placement that might even dictate play on the shot prior, a bunker so pinpoint accurate that every player must eventually negotiate its request. The Road Hole bunker at The Old Course at St. Andrews is one of the most ideally placed bunkers in golf course architecture. While not the only bunker on the hole, its influence dictates play on almost any shot to and around the green, with potentially disastrous repercussions for miscalculated plans of attack. This single greenside bunker should weigh heavy on the mind and even influence tee shot placement if one is to genuinely consider reaching the green in two. Approach shots from the center or right of fairway are ideal, and Brandon Johnson, ASGCA, explains his fascination with the lone trap. The single bunker Brandon Johnson Brandon Johnson, ASGCA, is a principal of the Arnold Palmer Design Company and has over 20 years of experience in golf design, starting his career as manager of design for The First Tee.